October is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Starting today, October 1st, this is another one of those inane awareness months that most people don’t care about or even want to hear. However, I have to say that for most of us who are disabled, this month is very important to us, just like Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to victims of DV, and breast Cancer Awareness Month is to breast cancer survivors and their families.
Mainly it’s because we want to work and not be on the ‘government dole’! Yes, I know that SSDI is our right and we earned it while we were working, but let me ask you a question.
If you were suddenly disabled and told you couldn’t work anymore what would you do? Over and above the jokes about finally taking a vacation and a nice long rest, how would you feel down deep inside your heart and gut? Think of it this way;
You try and look for work, but can’t find any, and it doesn’t have that much to do with the economy. You worked in a field that requires you to be mobile and have some vision (if you’ve went blind). And no one wants to hire you because you’re blind and disabled. So what are some of the reasons, or observations you make while on the job hunt?
You get treated like you’re a pariah. You’re stupid, overnight, because you’re blind. What can you tell me about …? You’re blind, you can’t do the things we want and need you to do. You’ll cost us too much money to accommodate, therefore we won’t even interview you and find a reason to deny the application so you don’t hire us.
Being blunt, many companies when they see someone with a disability coming to their door to apply for a job, they simply don’t want anything to do with the person, despite what their policies say. They have anti-discrimination policies and mission statements, but those are just for current employees. Not necessarily for a new hire. To paraphrase an old adage ‘Why hire a potential problem, when you can just ignore it and it’ll go away?’
So what are some of the disadvantages to being disabled and trying to find a job? Here is a small list of them. And again these are only for me. There are others who will have similar or worse job search issues.
- Dial-a-Ride. To get to an ASIS International Phoenix Chapter meeting. It takes me more than 4 hours to get there and more than 4 hours to get home. Because I have to transfer from East Valley Dial-a-Ride into a ‘short bus’. Then I have to wait for the bus to pick-up and drop-off others before I get to 27th & Dunlap from Scottsdale. A 1 hour meeting takes all day. A non-disabled person can drive there and back in 2 hours. And this is for those of us who have access to such programs.
- Getting the proper training. The state of Arizona has cut back on its Vocational Rehabilitation budget to the point where it’s nearly impossible for someone to get into voc rehab and a job training program. The waiting list is at least 12 months for most of us. If you can even get your counselor to call you back and set the proper times for you.
- Then there is the cost of the equipment that the employer may have to provide for you to do your job. Most employers don’t realize that Social Security and other programs are available to compensate them for the expenditures – and most won’t even get the chance to hear it because you shouldn’t bring such things up before an interview.
So, those are just a couple of the items that those of us
Have issues with in finding a job. Are their ways around those? For some of them, yes. For others, both issues and people, no there isn’t. So the job search process makes us more stressed and irritable as a presidential candidate on election night. And unfortunately feeling totally helpless and useless.
Yes, I said useless. Despite what we mean to our families, many of us feel absolutely useless to the world and many others because we can’t work. As useless as having a uni-cycle for carrying passengers! We can’t contribute to the household monetarily ($1,000 doesn’t go too far anymore) and mentally we linger in the area wondering if we should just sit on a street corner and be done with everything and everyone, begging for pity with a tin cup.
Look for a couple more blogs on the subject of hiring the disabled, from my standpoint of course, in the coming few weeks. I will attempt to enlighten you as to what we can and can’t do, and what we will and won’t do. This will be both in security and outside the security field.
And just a lil statistic that no one ever talks about… Of the blind people who want to work and not necessarily be on the ‘dole’ the unemployment rates are staggering. 59% of men and 69% of women! Those are depression era numbers for regular people! And you wanna tell me that there isn’t an employment issue with the disabled?
‘Pessimists see difficulties in every opportunity. Optimists see opportunity in every difficulty’
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. He has spent 31 years in the field and despite going blind in 2003, he still writes, blogs, and appears in the media as an expert. He has written 2 books, more than 2 dozen articles, and a twice weekly blog since going blind.